Iowa's Kate Martin, Gabbie Marshall back for final year of eligibility; McKenna Warnock moving on
IOWA CITY — The Iowa women’s basketball gang is (almost) all back together.
The three Hawkeyes with eligibility decisions for next season all had their future plans announced Monday. Kate Martin and Gabbie Marshall will return next year to use their extra COVID year of eligibility, while Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said McKenna Warnock will decline hers and move on to dental school after this campaign ends.
Martin’s return will mark her sixth year in the program, after she medically redshirted as a freshman during the 2018-19 season. Marshall will be a fifth-year senior and has played significant minutes since she was a true freshman in 2019-20. Warnock will end her four-year career at Iowa as a 1,000-point scorer and full-time starter for three seasons.
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Overall, this is good news for the Hawkeyes. While many Iowa fans hoped all three would be back next season, Martin and Marshall returning means the Hawkeyes get their emotional leader and top perimeter defender back for what should be another highly anticipated season.
For all the college basketball players across the country dealing with these eligibility questions as a result of the pandemic, the route to a decision can include a variety of factors. Such was the case for Marshall and Martin.
“We talked about it preseason, and I told them I wanted to (come back),” Marshall said. “Obviously, there is a lot of going back and forth in your head throughout the season. But I think it was ultimately decided before the season that I was going to come back.”
Martin needed a little more time to reach a conclusion.
“Preseason, I kind of said that I wasn’t going to stay because I thought I was going to get my master's (degree) finished within a year,” Martin said. “It’s difficult for younger players, too, whenever older players have this opportunity. It’s put a wrinkle in recruiting and whatnot, too. There was a lot of conflict in my own head.
“But I made my decision in early January. I’m very happy with my decision.”
Martin has garnered extensive leadership praise ever since she climbed into a pivotal role. Whenever things go awry, it’s Martin who reels the Hawkeyes back in. Those intangibles aren’t easy to find in true freshmen or the transfer portal.
“There are once-in-a-lifetime players like Caitlin (Clark), but there are once-in-a-lifetime leaders like Kate, too,” Marshall said. “She’s just a very important part to this team. Not everything she does shows up on the box score. But what she does inside the locker room and in our team meetings, there are no words to describe it.”
While Marshall’s 3-point shooting has dipped — from 47% in 2020-21 and 39% in 2021-22 to 29% this season — she still provides plenty of value as a defensive stopper.
Marshall is usually on the opposition’s best guard, who often scores well below her average when the Cincinnati native is on the other side.
“I talked a lot with Kate, too, and my family,” Marshall said. “My family was always like, ‘You want to stay in college as long as you can. Working sucks.’ But seriously, this team is so special — and under these coaches — it really was a no-brainer for me.
“There were thoughts, can I do this mentally another year and psychically? But this place is just very special to me, and it’s been an honor to play under these coaches the last four years. So I’m excited for next year.”
So is Bluder to have two pivotal pieces back.
Dargan Southard is a sports trending reporter and covers Iowa athletics for the Des Moines Register and HawkCentral.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.